Local communities must benefit from wildlife sanctuaries: Minister

Source: Local communities must benefit from wildlife sanctuaries: Minister | The Herald May 26, 2017

From Tawanda Mangoma in CHIREDZI
Government is concerned with challenges faced by communities surrounding wildlife sanctuaries countrywide, whose livelihoods are being disrupted by wild animals as human-wildlife conflicts escalate. In a speech read on her behalf by Acting Director in the Department of Environment in the Ministry ofEnvironment, Water and Climate Mr Wilfred Motsa at a conference here on Wednesday, Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri said communities that were living within wildlife areas should earn a living from revenue generated by such projects.

She said with more villagers losing their livestock and crops to stray wild animals, communities continued to lobby Government to design a compensation scheme.

Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri, who was officially opening the Second Research Platform “Production and Conservation in Partnership”, acknowledged the bureaucratic structure of Government data capturing.

She said this had seen community voices failing to be captured in policy formulation.

“The nature of our geographical set-up in this region and administrative structures is that the community voice does not always reach the desired targets, be they decision makers and policy makers,” she said.

“As a result, most community stakeholders pay a huge price of co-existing with wildlife resources, but when benefits are shared, the communities would be the last to receive the benefits and dividends from the wildlife resources.”

Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri challenged researchers to help Government find lasting solutions to the pressing effects of climate change and human wildlife conflicts.

“We are pleased to note that most of the participants here are academics and researchers, these are the appropriate and suitable players to identify weaknesses, gaps, strategies and opportunities in the human-wildlife conflict and rural development matrix in general,” she said.

Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri added: “With the ever-increasing menace of Climate Change and other associated environmental challenges, human population pressure, growing elephant populations, competition for land, food production losses and biodiversity losses, the human wildlife conflict remains.”

Deputy French Ambassador Mr Lionel Canny said his government was prepared to continue cooperating with Zimbabwe in research and scientific cooperation.

He said France used to face cases of human-wildlife conflict, but researchers helped in mapping the way forward.

“In France, we had a similar difficulty when wolfs appeared in areas around 20 years ago, we had to deal with the problem of coexistence between wildlife and human beings,” said Mr Canny.

He said scientific research could play a key role in addressing human-wildlife conflict.

“Therefore, our common objective is not only to preserve on a proper management of nature protection, that can be an additional source of livelihood for the local population,” he said.

“To achieve that goal, the scientific research can play a key role.”

The conference is running under the theme, “Co-existing within Trans Frontier Conservation Areas: Local Perspectives”.